Thursday, September 08, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 8th September

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”Colossians 1:28 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay."
Mark 2:4

Faith is full of inventions. The house was full, a crowd blocked up the door, but faith found a way of getting at the Lord and placing the palsied man before him. If we cannot get sinners where Jesus is by ordinary methods we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, that a tiling had to be removed, which would make dust and cause a measure of danger to those below, but where the case is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties. Jesus was there to heal, and therefore fall what might, faith ventured all so that her poor paralysed charge might have his sins forgiven. O that we had more daring faith among us! Cannot we, dear reader, seek it this morning for ourselves and for our fellow-workers, and will we not try today to perform some gallant act for the love of souls and the glory of the Lord.

The world is constantly inventing; genius serves all the purposes of human desire: cannot faith invent too, and reach by some new means the outcasts who lie perishing around us? It was the presence of Jesus which excited victorious courage in the four bearers of the palsied man: is not the Lord among us now? Have we seen his face for ourselves this morning? Have we felt his healing power in our own souls? If so, then through door, through window, or through roof, let us, breaking through all impediments, labour to bring poor souls to Jesus. All means are good and decorous when faith and love are truly set on winning souls. If hunger for bread can break through stone walls, surely hunger for souls is not to be hindered in its efforts. O Lord, make us quick to suggest methods of reaching thy poor sin-sick ones, and bold to carry them out at all hazards.

Evening

"There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet."
Jeremiah 49:23

Little know we what sorrow may be upon the sea at this moment. We are safe in our quiet chamber, but far away on the salt sea the hurricane may be cruelly seeking for the lives of men. Hear how the death fiends howl among the cordage; how every timber starts as the waves beat like battering rams upon the vessel! God help you, poor drenched and wearied ones! My prayer goes up to the great Lord of sea and land, that he will make the storm a calm, and bring you to your desired haven! Nor ought I to offer prayer alone, I should try to benefit those hardy men who risk their lives so constantly. Have I ever done anything for them? What can I do? How often does the boisterous sea swallow up the mariner! Thousands of corpses lie where pearls lie deep. There is death-sorrow on the sea, which is echoed in the long wail of widows and orphans. The salt of the sea is in many eyes of mothers and wives. Remorseless billows, ye have devoured the love of women, and the stay of households. What a resurrection shall there be from the caverns of the deep when the sea gives up her dead! Till then there will be sorrow on the sea. As if in sympathy with the woes of earth, the sea is forever fretting along a thousand shores, wailing with a sorrowful cry like her own birds, booming with a hollow crash of unrest, raving with uproarious discontent, chafing with hoarse wrath, or jangling with the voices of ten thousand murmuring pebbles. The roar of the sea may be joyous to a rejoicing spirit, but to the son of sorrow the wide, wide ocean is even more forlorn than the wide, wide world. This is not our rest, and the restless billows tell us so. There is a land where there is no more sea--our faces are steadfastly set towards it; we are going to the place of which the Lord hath spoken. Till then, we cast our sorrows on the Lord who trod the sea of old, and who maketh a way for his people through the depths thereof.

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Today's reading: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Proverbs 1-2

Purpose and Theme

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 16

The Collection for the Lord's People

1 Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Personal Requests

5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you-for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me....

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Phinehas

[Phĭn'ĕhăs] - face of trust or mouth of a serpent.

  1. A son of Eleazar, one of Aaron's sons, who slew Zimri and Cozbi. He manifested great zeal, was the third high priest of the Jews and discharged his office most faithfully for nineteen years (Exod. 6:25; Num. 25:14, 15).
  2. The younger son of Eli, the priest and judge of Israel. Phinehas, with his brother Hophni, disgraced the sacred office of priesthood and both were slain ( 1 Sam. 1:3; 2:34; 4:4-19; 14:3).
  3. The father of Eleazar, a priest who returned with Ezra (Ezra 8:33).
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P31Header
Melissa Taylor

September 7, 2011

No Condemnation
Melissa Taylor

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Do you ever hear the whispers of condemnation telling you that you're not what you should be, that you're always disappointing someone and that you'll never change?

I do. Unfortunately, self-condemnation is a default for me and, if I let it, it can wipe out my confidence as a woman, wife and mom.

Thankfully, I'm just as familiar with God's promises as I am with Satan's lies. My heart has heard Jesus' gentle reminders of His love and goodness, like His "there is now no condemnation" promise in today's key verse.

However, although I know this truth that He speaks over me, I've learned that it's up to me to pause and respond to it. If I don't keep my ears tuned to His voice and my mind set on His thoughts, I forget His promises.

Condemning thoughts come back in and drown out the confidence I have through Christ.

One morning I was struggling with self-condemning thoughts and God guided me to these words written in my morning devotion: "Do not listen to voices of accusation for they are not from Me."

I opened my journal and responded from my heart:

Hello Lord. You know I often feel disappointed in myself and call myself names. You know my feelings have been hurt by someone's comments. Comments that cut me down and stole my confidence. Instead of feeling worthy, I feel like a loser. I hear You telling me not to listen to voices of accusation. Thank You for this reminder right when I needed it.

The devotion continued, "Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me."

Again, I reached out to Him:

Lord, You know I spoke unkind words to my friend. Thank You for gently reminding me to "pause before responding." You are so faithful to speak truth to me. Thank You for these words-a reminder of what You want from me. I needed this today, right now.

If left to defend ourselves from self-condemnation or the condemnation of others, we'd be defeated every time. Thankfully we don't have to defend ourselves. In fact, God's Word promises, "the Lord himself will fight for" us. (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT)

We have the greatest defender in God and His Word. His truths re-build confidence that condemnation breaks down.

Our part is to know God's promises, respond to His truth, and believe it! Staying saturated in His Word and taking time to listen to His voice is the only way we can overcome condemnation. Reading devotions, digging into books on our specific area of struggle, participating in Bible studies and talking to Jesus through prayer helps re-build the confidence that is ours in Christ.

As we take the time to listen to Him today, let's ask Him to remind us that He is with us, He loves us, and that it's true: "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And, that means you and me!

Dear Lord, when I forget, please remind me that I am not condemned. Help me to keep my eyes and thoughts on You. And to accept Your Word as truth so my confidence stays strong in You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Ask Jesus to build back your confidence and join thousands of women who are doing the same by taking part in Melissa Online Bible Study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope! Sign up for this study on Melissa's blog.

You can also participate in the life-changing accompanying A Confident Heart Conference Call series!Click here to sign up!

Find out more about A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope

The encouragement Melissa found which she shared in today's devotion was from Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

Application Steps:
When spending time with the Lord, pause and ask Him if there is something He's trying to tell you. Ask Him to help you apply His Word to your life.

Reflections:
Are there condemning thoughts about myself that I believe?

What are some of God's promises I can read, hold onto and believe to replace my accusing thoughts with His affirmations?

Power Verses:
Exodus 14:13-14, "Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (NLT)

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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September 7, 2011

I Need a Friend

Part 5

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

But Ruth replied, 'Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.' When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. God created us to need each other. We need friends and we need to be a friend. Over the past few weeks, we have examined the friendship between Naomi and Ruth, a relationship that illustrates vital keys to a healthy relationship between friends.

Key one: Time

Key two: Risk

Key three: Transparency

Key four: Touch

Key five: Correction

Key six: Forgiveness

Key seven: Freedom

Key eight: Loyalty

One of the most important friendship keys is loyalty. Ruth was loyal to Naomi. God honored that loyalty and used it to attract her future husband, Boaz. "Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband--how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before" (Ruth 2:11). Boaz was struck by the loyalty of Ruth, realizing that she was the kind of woman he wanted to marry. True friends are loyal and committed to each other. Here are some ways to build loyalty into friendship.

  • Don't criticize friends to other people.
  • Cheer at the successes of your friends.
  • Encourage the strengths of your friends.
  • Never use a friend's weaknesses to your advantage.
  • Overlook "cracks" in the armor and "tilted" halos of friends.

Protect the heart of your friend by guarding your friendship with loyalty.

Key nine: Action

Ruth demonstrated her love for Naomi by her actions. She went with her to Bethlehem and worked in the field for her. "Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action" (1 John 3:18). The best friendships are created by layers of kind actions.

1. Rituals or traditions are one of most important ingredients in a healthy friendship. It may be a weekly lunch date, annual shopping trip or dinner and a movie once a month. The best friendships are rich with memories accumulated over time.

2. Gifts are a symbol of time and energy spent for a friend. It is not the cost or size of the gift, but the thought behind it that says, "She thought of me." It is a tangible reminder of relationship. Notes, funny cards, a favorite snack or magazine, phone calls for no reason, favors done back and forth are all tiny statements of love. When my husband was in the hospital, one friend bought groceries, picked up my kids from school and delivered my cleaning. I didn't ask for help, but she knew I needed help. When you sense a need, just do it, because sometimes, hurting friends can't ask for help.

3. Words of a friend are filled with acceptance and approval. In friendships, we need to be cautious with criticism and liberal with praise. Paul writes, "So encourage each other to build each other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11). People become what we encourage them to be. A true friend trains his heart and mind to pass over faults in search of strong points. Choose to draw the strong qualities of friends into the spotlight and be their cheerleader. Friends look for reasons to praise God in each other.

4. Listening by definition means "attention, with the intention to understand." James says we should be "quick to listen and slow to speak" (James 1:19). Talking is sharing but listening is caring. Take a tip from creation. Ears aren't made to shut but the mouth is. Put away your sermon, save your advice and just listen. Sometimes the best gift a friend can offer is a listening ear.

The words of Jesus found in John 13:34-35, portray the perfect backdrop for God's love. "And so I am giving a new commandment to you now--love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Does the world know we are His disciples by the way we love and relate to each other?

Chad was a shy, quiet little boy. One day he came home and told his mother he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. "I wish he wouldn't do that!" she thought. She had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. She purchased the paper, glue and crayons and for three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines. Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was frantic with excitement! He carefully placed the valentines in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake his favorite cookies because she knew he would be disappointed when he came home from school. It hurt her to think that he wouldn't get many valentines -- maybe none at all. That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. Finally, when she heard their voices, she looked out the window to see the children laughing and having the best time. As usual, there was Chad in the rear but walking a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door opened, she choked back the tears. "Honey, I have some warm cookies and milk for you" but he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face glowing, and all he could say was: "Not a one -- not one." The mother's heart sank. Then he added, "I didn't forget a one, not a single one!" When God is in control of our friendships, we will be a better friend and have more true friends.

Let's Pray

Father, I know that I really do need friends but often let the fear of rejection keep me from reaching out in friendship. I choose against that fear right now. I want to please and honor You by the way I love my friends. Help me to become the kind of friend that points others to You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Life really is all about who you make the journey with. Read the ABC's of friendship below and make a plan to put each one into action this week.

  1. Allow people to get close. Friendship requires taking a risk. Read Proverbs 18:24 (NLT) "There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
  2. Become a great friend. Which way do you run in times of trouble? Read Proverbs 17:17a (NIV) "A friend loves at all times ..."
  3. Celebrate your friends. Who do you need to celebrate this week? How will you celebrate their friendship? ReadPhilippians 1:3 (NLT) "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."

More from the Girlfriends

Don't miss the Dollar Days Sale going on in Mary's online store right now! Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. I Need a Friend is also available in Bible Study format.

Be sure to check out Mary's weekly Online Bible Study: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Mixed Results: Paul stirs up acclaim, scorn or riots

Today's reading: Acts 17

Acts 17:18: Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?"

Jesus told a parable about a farmer sowing seed (Matthew 13:3-9). Some seed falls on rocky places, some among thorns and some on fertile ground. This chapter, which reviews events from Paul's second journey, demonstrates that he, the first foreign missionary, encounters all these responses in quick succession.

In Thessalonica Paul's visit sparks a riot. The next town, Berea, proves far more receptive. After studying the Scriptures to test Paul's message, many believe, both Jews and non-Jews. Yet agitators from Thessalonica soon stir up trouble there as well, for Paul is often trailed by hostile opponents seeking to disrupt his work.

Showdown in Athens

In the sophisticated university city of Athens, Paul faces perhaps his most daunting missionary challenge. This renowned city of philosophers subjects each new thinker to a grueling intellectual ordeal. Local philosophers, full of scorn for Paul, haul him before the Aeropagus, a philosophical council that oversees religion and morals.

Confident that the new faith can compete in the marketplace of ideas, Paul stands before the skeptical audience and, in a burst of eloquence, delivers an extraordinary speech to a gathering of philosophers and thinkers. Apparently, he meets with little success, and the results trouble him.

Paul gains few converts among the elite Athenians, but he next travels to the city of Corinth and founds a church remarkable for its ethnic diversity. Some scholars believe that the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians describe the aftereffects of his experience in Athens.

Life Question

  • When talking with your friends and acquaintances about the gospel, what kind of approach do you find works best?

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